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Recognizing shoulder dystocia during delivery

Many of the parents who come to us here at Futterman, Sirotkin, and Seinfeld looking to pursue compensation following a birth injury to their children often feel conflicted. While they love their children immensely, handling the expenses that result from their injuries can be financially and emotionally difficult. Shoulder dystocia is an example of just such an injury.

Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby's shoulder becomes stuck on the mother's pubic bone during the delivery. As a result, inordinate pressure is placed not only on the baby's shoulder, but his or her lungs and the umbilical cord become compressed, as well. This compression deprives the baby of vital oxygen, while the pressure on his or her shoulder can cause damage to the brachial plexus. According to the Journal of Prenatal Medicine, shoulder dystocia occurs in 0.6 to 3.0 percent of all vaginal deliveries. The net result of this condition can be temporary or permanent arm or shoulder paralysis, or even brain damage should the baby be deprived of oxygen long enough.

Doctors, nurses, and other health care providers should be trained in recognizing the signs and symptoms of this condition and be prepared to intervene if necessary. The telltale sign of shoulder dystocia is a stalled delivery after the baby's head has emerged from the birth canal. When this occurs, parents should expect to see extra staff called in to assist in repositioning the mother to assist with the delivery, as well as a pediatrician to monitor the condition of the baby. A delay calling for such assistance by a doctor could prove costly.

For more information on situations that could require the assistance of Queens birth injury lawyers, visit our Birth Injuries page. 

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